Etymology of tea

As I sat there sipping on my English Breakfast tea, thinking about what to write, a friend asked me ‘Why is tea, called tea?’ Well needless to say I did not know the answer to that. In English it’s tea, in French it’s thé but in Russian and Turkish it’s chai and çay. In most of the languages there seems to be two types of forms of the word tea but why is this?

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The two different forms of the word originated from China. The Chinese character for tea 茶 is pronounced differently depending on the dialect of the area. In Mandarin it is chá but in the Amoy dialect from the Fujian province it is pronounced tê. So depending on which part of the world was trading with that area of China, determined how that country would then pronounce it.

The European traders first traded with China through Xiamen, which was their main port at the time of the East India Trading Company. The traders would buy tea from China through here and as they spoke Amoy in this region they adopted the tê derivative of the word. Other countries such as Russia, Turkey, Persia and Greece brought tea overland (which was very expensive) from the provinces of China that spoke Mandarin so that’s why they all use the chá derivative in their language.

There are a few languages that do not follow these two forms and that is due to tea being a native plant to that region. In Burmese it is ‘Lahpet’, alongside with drinking tea they also pickle it and use it in salads.

So now you know where the word tea comes from! From this post you can see language doesn’t always depend on geographical location to influence each other. In this situation it was the trading routes that determined how the country adopted the word tea. What country are you from and how do you say tea? Comment below!

Drink On!

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How to Store Loose Leaf Tea

So you bought your loose leaf tea from the store, you skip home and brew a cup of tea. You then go to put the rest away in your cupboard but you stop and decide to consult you favorite tea blog (that’s us) just in case you are storing it incorrectly. Well, I am here to tell you that there are a couple of rules when it comes to how to store your loose leaf tea appropriately. If tea is not stored correctly, it will go stale and the flavor will be affected. So fear not, I am here to help.


First of all your tea must be kept away from heat, moisture and light. So store it in a cool dry place, preferably inside a cabinet and not on display. However, if you do want to display your tea with pride then do not use a glass storage jar. The light will degrade tea and cause the color of your tea leaves to fade.

Make sure you tea is stored in air tight tins, being exposed to the oxygen in the air will compromise the taste of the tea. As explained in a previous post, oxidation is a process used to create the various types of tea. If not stored in an air tight container this oxidation will presume. This process will affect the lesser oxidized tea the most, such as green and white teas.

Note: Always buy tea leaves from a trusted online source or shop that rotates their stock frequently so that you are not buying tea that has been sitting on the shelf for a while.

When storing your tea in a cabinet or on a shelf, keep it away from spices or other teas with strong aromas. Tea leaves absorb the aromas around them very easily so you will find that your tea fragrance and taste will be different when you next go to drink it.

Lastly, if you are reusing tins for different teas, wash the tea tin and allow it to air completely before using it again. Some tea aromas will permeate the tin and no matter how much you wash or soak with vinegar the smell will remain, so take this into consideration when reusing tins.

DIY Vintage Tea Tins | Damask Love Blog

I also found a craft blogger who made her own vintage inspired tins (the image above was taken from her site). Click here to follow the link and make your own.

Well now you have the knowledge on how to store your tea correctly. If you have any questions about where to buy tea tins or what tea tins I use then comment underneath or email.

Drink on!

Tea Climate and Geography

In this post I would like to tell you about where tea is grown, the conditions it needs to grow and the seasons the tea leaves are picked. Camellia Sinensis can grow in many areas of the world, however to achieve the best quality and the taste it has certain conditions for growing:

Climate and Geography

Temperature: 21°C to 29°C is ideal for the production of tea. Although Camellia Sinensis var. Sinensis (Chinese Tea) can handle some frost throughout the winter, Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica (Indian Assam Tea) cannot at all, these require subtropical Northen Indian temperatures.

Rainfall: Typically around 150-250 cm.

Soil: Tea shrubs require fertile acidic mountain soil around pH 4.5 to 5.5.

Land: Tea cultivation needs well drained land, such mountain slopes are good for tea cultivation.

Elevation: The highest commercial tea operations are around 8000 feet (about 2400m), which are the more expensive teas as they give a different flavor and characteristics but have lower yield.

Rainfall has traditionally been plentiful for growing tea, especially in India but with recent changes in the climate, surface and ground water are becoming important irrigation systems.

Tea growing Regions

Black Tea: Requires cooler and drier temperatures. It is usually grown at lower elevations than green tea. Indian Assam tea is made from Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica which has bigger leaves but other varieties of black teas are made from a mix of both varieties of the plant. Some types of black teas and where they are typically grown are as follows: Assam is typically grown in Northern India, Darjeeling by the foothills of the Himalayas and Ceylon in Sri Lanka.

Green Tea: Requires higher elevations and is typically grown in South and East of china where the climate ranges from tropical to subtropical and Southern japan. China has better rainfall due to Japan’s climate being moderated by the Ocean which makes Japan more humid. China tends to produce pan-fried green tea whereas Japan produces the steamed variety.

Oolong and White Teas: Both predominately grown and cultivated in Fujian province, China which has a subtropical climate. White tea is made from the buds of the tea plant and Oolong is made from rolling the leaves or curling them into small beads.

Pu-erh: Grown predominately in Yunnan province, China. Yunnan is mountainous and temperature range from tropical to subtropical. This tea is dried, rolled and shaped and is known as Red Tea in China.

Seasons

Tea can be cultivated during three seasons which produce three different flushes. Each flush has a different flavor and if you are an avid tea drinker you will tend to have a favorite flush.

Spring: First flush is a more delicate, lighter in flavor and are the more higher quality. This is the most popular and expensive as not a lot is produced.

Summer: Second flush has a darker color and stronger taste compared to the first flush. This will be the flush most commonly found in stores.

Autumn: Full bodied and lighter in flavor. This is sometimes considered the best flush by some tea connoisseurs and the more rare to find in stores.

If you have a favorite flush you buy every year be aware that the plant will always produce a different flavor each time it is cultivated as it depends on the conditions of growth. So be open minded when you drink your next cup of tea or keep notes how the flavor changes year to year!

Drink On!

Image taken from: http://www.thehindu.com/business/efforts-on-to-make-tea-industry-climatesmart/article7724021.ece

Review: BlendBee

The other day I got a lovely packet of tea from BlendBee. BlendBee was started in 2013 by owner Jamah Dacus. If you haven’t heard of this website I recommend you check it out now by clicking here. The unique concept about BlendBee is that you can blend your own tea but for those who don’t fancy this they have their own blends too. What I really loved about this site was when I was blending my own tea I put in the comment section what I was trying to accomplish and I got some very helpful recommendations back! So if you are not sure what goes with what, don’t worry you’ll get a helping hand if you ask for it. Okay so now to taste it…

Om Sweet Om

This was a pre made yerba mate tea blend. This blend smelt pleasantly earthy and it tasted sweet. When drinking I could really taste the orange and licorice root. This tea really lived up to its name and I found it soothing and revitalizing.

Orbital Oolong

This was my first own blend. I think this blend would taste good with a dash of milk too so I might try that at a later date. It had the nutty and sweet flavor I was going for and the suggestion of the Stevia by Jamah was a good choice!

Big Bang Berry

This was my second own blend and was probably my favorite out of my own two blends. I could really smell the hibiscus and taste the apple and strawberry. I found this green tea to be really refreshing.

I really loved the idea of blending you own tea, it’s something you don’t see a lot. BlendBee also uses very high quality and mostly organic ingredients and you can really tell. Don’t forget to visit the website!

Drink On!

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Mom’s Favorite Tea Recipe

In honor of Mother’s Day I thought I’d put up my Mom’s favorite tea recipe. It’s a simple one but very aromatic and tasty!


Serves: 1 person

Ingredients:

1/2 Cinnamon Stick

6 cloves

1-2 tsp black tea leaves

8 oz water

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Instructions:

1. In a whistling kettle put in 8 oz (or how many you are serving for) in with the cloves and the cinnamon.

2. Once this water has boiled, pour into a teapot with black tea leaves.

3. Brew for 3 to 4 mins and enjoy!

My mom serves with milk but you can have this without too.

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Drink On!

Review: Flowering Pineapple Blooming White Tea

Price: $18.98 for 2 oz

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Ingredients: White tea, marigold blossoms, artificial flavoring

Temperature: 180°F/82°C

Brew time: 3-4 min

This tea is delicate white tea with a hint of floral and a sweet pineapple aftertaste. I love these blooming teas as it gives you a spectacle to watch as your tea is brewing in the pot. Make sure you brew in a glass teapot or you won’t get to appreciate it! It has a light refreshing taste and I love the smell of pineapple. As always the price of these Teavana teas are very high. You can use the same tea ball a couple of times to get the most out of your money. I would definitely buy this again!

Rating: 5/5

20150430_183724Drink On!

Focus: Turkish Tea

A couple of posts earlier I wrote about Tea cultures for around the world. As this post was very popular I decided that every now and then I will focus on a particular culture and write a bit more in depth about it. This week I wanted to tell you about Turkish Tea.

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Tea or “Çay” is a huge part of Turkish culture, per person per year the average person drinks nearly 7 pounds! They are the world’s biggest tea drinkers (Surpassing United Kingdom!). It is used as a centerpiece for socializing and any household you are in will always have a pot brewing. Tea houses and gardens are very popular in Turkey and found in most towns and cities.

In 1878 Mehmet Izzet, Governor of Turkey at the time released a pamphlet highlighting the health benefits of Turkish tea. However, at this time coffee was the most popular drink that was being consumed. Tea did not become popular until the 1930s after the first tea plantation was started in Rize. Rize has a mild and wet climate ideal for the growth of tea. This began the rise in popularity of tea.

As with other teas it is from the Camellia Sinensis plant but unlike the black teas that are produced these leaves are not exposed to chemicals or additives. It is prepared without but with sugar and using a caydanlik which is two stacked kettles (see photo below). Boiling water is added to the kettle pot on the bottom and water and tea leaves are added to the top kettle which is where the tea steeps. They are served in glasses that resemble tulips, which are the national flower of Turkey, and are held by the rim.

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How to prepare:

1. Pour 1 liter of boiling water in the bottom teapot

2. Put 5 tbsp or 1/3 cup of black tea leaves into the upper teapot

3. Pour 1/2 liter of boiling water into the upper teapot. Some teapots will be bigger or smaller so adjust accordingly

4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the tea leaves have sunk to the bottom which takes usually around 15 minutes

5. Serve and enjoy!

As the pot is always brewing it can often become too strong so water from the bottom teapot can be added to balance the taste. You can adjust the brewing time depending on whether you like a stronger or weaker taste.

Drink On!